Kevin Youkilis ramps up his rehab

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Kevin Youkilis took some steps toward returning to the Red Sox over the weekend. He threw some on Friday and yesterday ramped things up by swinging the bat and taking grounders.  He’ll need some rehab games in the minors before coming back, but looks to be on the road back to Boston.

Which will be fun if Will Middlebrooks keeps hitting (he’s at .310/.356/.714 in ten games). In a tale as old as time, the fresh face has made fans fall in love with him after a nice start, allowing them to use him as a metaphor for the cleansing of old rot and all of that.

And yes, the Sox have made it clear that Youkilis gets his old job back when he returns. But in a city where people freak the hell out over a ballplayer playing golf, you can bet that someone will find a way to make giving a three-time All-Star his job back following an injury controversial.  Which should be fun.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.